California Voters Keep State Ban on Flavored Tobacco and Vapes

Bring on the black market.


Pull out those joints and edibles and stub out those menthols. California voters, years after legalizing recreational marijuana, appear to have ban flavored tobacco.

With 24 percent of the vote reported, Californians seem to be heavily supporting ballot referendum Proposition 31 in numbers high enough for the Associated Press to call it just before 9 p.m. Pacific time. At the time the Associated Press projected that the referendum would pass, 2.5 million voters had voted in favor of the ban, and 776,000 opposed it. That's a 76.5 to 23.5 percent gap.

Proposition 31 put S.B. 793, passed by lawmakers in 2020, before the voters for a decision whether or not to keep it. Lawmakers banned the sale of flavored tobacco products (including e-cigarettes), with exceptions for hookah and loose-leaf tobacco, as well as premium cigars.

The ban was promoted as a "for the children" Nanny State measure vs. "big tobacco," but obviously it was already illegal to sell them to children. Instead this ban forbids the purchase of flavored tobacco, including menthol, to adults.

California now joins Massachusetts as states where flavored tobacco (both traditional and e-cigarettes) are banned. In Massachusetts, the end result was an increase in nonmenthol cigarette sales within the state and an increase in sales in nearby states. Given that California can't even seem to get rid of its marijuana black market (thanks to high taxes and oppressive regulations), we can expect a black market (and a potentially dangerous one) to develop to offer the forbidden flavors to smokers and vapers.